Ying Feng was dazed for a moment. He couldn’t tell whether the principal was speaking to the Qizhu who had abandoned him or the person named Ying Feng. When he came back to himself, the person in front of him had already left.
“It sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it?” A voice with a contrasting attitude forced itself into Ying Feng’s ears, “I can’t believe that someone as bossy and domineering as him would one day speak so melancholily.”
Seeing the disbelief on Ying Feng’s face, Fu Yao bluntly uncovered the truth to him, “Don’t be tricked by your headmaster’s current listless appearance. Back then, when he ran amuck all over Bikong, he was so rampant and arrogant that it just made people want to throttle him.”
Ying Feng could roughly guess the relationship between the two. “Was there enmity between you and the principal?”
“Enmity? Hah!” Fu Yao sneered at the word. “It’s more like we find each other irritating. But even though I strongly disagree with his character and behavior, I still have to acknowledge his strength and the fact that I once respected him as a rival of mine. Unfortunately, ever since he lost to that one person, he seemed to be beaten by the entire world. We agreed beforehand that we would compete against each other and see who could earn more merits after we joined the military, but he cowered in a small institute and became some sort of a principal in the end. Whenever I see his stupid manner, all sensitive and pessimistic, I really hope that he would remain the same bastard he was before.”
Two evenly matched opponents ended up with totally opposite fates — the result of an Adult Ceremony was capable of changing so much.
Fu Yao waved his hand and refused to continue on the topic of the principle. “Even though your physical report looks fine, I’m afraid that the your Qizi’s condition isn’t as optimistic as yours. As his Qizhu, as well as an eyewitness on the scene, I have the right to detain you.”
Ying Feng knew Fu Yao was getting at something else, so he waited quietly.
“But I’m not planning to do so. Even if I can force you to stay, it will only be temporary. By the time the restriction is lifted, you can still escape as far as you like. Your principal was right about one thing. No one can stop you if you really want to leave.”
Fu Yao leaned over slightly. “Therefore, I also have something to tell you. Will you be interested in hearing me finish?”
Ying Feng’s intuition told him that what Fu Yao was about to say was not something he wanted to hear, but he had not choice but to listen.
“If you think that your Qizi will be sent to the CDC after you leave, then I have to say that your way of thinking is naive. According to procedure, he must be arrested. He will wait for his trial while being imprisoned.”
“For a Qizi like him, who is forced to separate with his Qizhu right after the completion of the Adult Ceremony and is sent to detention without guarantee of any medical treatment,” Fu Yao’s words slowed down, “I promise you he won’t live for more than 72 hours in there. His spirit will break, and his mental strength will wither. His soul will be reporting to the Base even before his trial date comes.”
Ying Feng’s face darkened. “Are you using him to threaten me?”
“And I haven’t finished threatening you yet.” Fu Yao answered with the shadow of a smile.
He stepped forward and walked out from the treatment center’s gate. In front of him was an even broader expanse of land.
“Our nation is born to be extremely aggressive, and the special physical characteristics we have allow us to defeat any enemy easily. If we want, the whole galaxy will submit to our feet. However, to this day, Tianxiu’s troops have only set foot on the few planets around us. Do you know why that is?”
Ying Feng didn’t know.
Fu Yao bumped his chest with his fist. “Because of the ‘soul attraction’.”
“During the years I’ve led my army and visited many places, I discovered that as soon as we leave this planet, all Tianxiu people would start to experience uneasiness and discomfort. The longer they stay out and the further they are from the mother planet, the stronger those feelings would become. Once it surpasses a certain limitation, even their morale will completely vanish.”
“Later I learned that our range of movement was bounded by a circle centered at the Soul Lighthouse. Whenever we’re far away from the center, our souls will start to resist and protest due to worrying about not being able to return. Only stepping on our own land can give us peace of mind. This is what has been restricting our nation from expanding. No one can explain or even understand the reasons behind it. It can only be attributed to some sort of hidden system of checks and balances.”
He reached out and grasped the distant horizon with his hands. “It’s such a shame that we are confined to this perimeter despite how vast the universe is. There’s a limit to what we can see. A lot of people have never left this place in their entire lifetime.”
“Now, do you understand what I wanted to say?” He turned back, “The soul attraction will always be there. Even if where you’re going is the Langxiu Planet, the closest neighboring planet, the force will gradually increase with each passing day, calling you back.”
“Don’t think that there’s no psychological pressure in being a Qizhu, and don’t ever think that the person who bit your principal will be able to live and roam far and wide freely. Freedom only exists here, right beneath your feet. Once you leave, incorporeal shackles will immobilize you. I hope that you won’t feel regret because of your own impulsive actions when the time comes.
Fu Yao suddenly changed into a different tone, “If you have to see the world out there, you can join the military ministry. I’ve read through your profile. You have great potential. We’re in need of people like you.”
“In the past, only Qizhu were required to take the entrance exam for the Yutian Military Academy. Once the Qizhu was admitted, their Qizi would automatically be admitted as well, but they could only choose supporting majors like communications or medical specialities.”
“I was once admitted by Yutian with the exemption of examination. However, I had only one request, and that was that they must treat my Qizi equally. Therefore, he was the first Qizi accepted by the Department of Operational Command in Yutian’s history.”
“During our studies in the military academy, we came up with a combat technique unique to Qizhu and their Qizi. As long as the two of them cooperate with each other, they can bring out far more energy than what two Qizhu of equal strengths are capable of.”
“Our training method has been recognized by the academy. Five years after my graduation, Yutian officially opened the Joint Operations Department to recruit Qizhu and Qizi that were similarly outstanding. In order to qualify for admission, both of them have to pass the examination.”
“I’m very pleased with you and your Qizi’s abilities. So long you two are willing to apply, I can write you a recommendation letter. You might not know it, but my recommendation letter has great weight in the application process.”
Having explained so much in one breath, Fu Yao routinely inquired about Ying Feng’s opinion. “So how about it? Give it some thought?”
“First you threatened us, now you’re luring us with gains? Although your tactics are different from the principal’s, your goals are astonishingly the same. We have never met before, yet you said and did so much for us. I’m sure it’s all for the principal’s sake, isn’t it? In actuality, the relationship between the two of you doesn’t seem to be as bad as what’s shown on the surface.”
“Can’t be helped. Although I don’t like him, Bikong is still my alma mater after all, and he used to be my schoolmate. It makes me feel rather good to imagine how guilty he feels by making him owe me a favor.”
“Besides, not everyone can garner so much talking on my side. After all, I do recognize your talents. You can take it as admiration a strong one will feel for another person of the same calibre. I’m willing to lend a helping hand upon seeing that my little junior with bright future prospects is about to take a wrong step in life.”
Ying Feng did not outright express his agreement or refusal. “I’m thankful for your good intentions. If I really want to choose Yutian, I will pass the examination with my own strength.”
“It’s good that you have the resolve, but I still need to gently remind you that it’s wishful thinking to enter the military ministry with your current level. The prerequisite for you to get in is that you have to mature completely. If you follow in the footsteps of your principal, you’re bound to be barred sooner or later. That eternal virgin. Hahahaha!”
“Is that so?” Ying Feng said emotionlessly, “Judging by your height, I would have thought you hadn’t matured either.”
As soon as Ying Feng said that, a heavy blow landed on his abdomen, ferociously throwing his entire body backwards dozens of metres away, only stopping when he finally collided with the wall of the institution.
Ying Feng collapsed to the ground from midair. As though all the air in his stomach had been emptied, he only managed to regulate his breathing after coughing several times. He had a premonition that he would have to be sent back to the treatment chamber even though he was just discharged from it.
Fu Yao walked over to him, showing no signs of remorse. He stretched his wrists until a couple of ‘cracks!’ sounded out. “With your current capabilities, you’re probably only able to take on two punches at most, so feel free to say that again.”
Ying Feng covered his wound, unable to say another word. There was no denying that this man was insane.
“I’m afraid that you have no idea of the Tianxiu people’s true strength, do you? Those foundations you all learned in the elementary institute couldn’t even be compared to a superficial battle.”
A crystal appeared in the palm of his hand. He tossed it upwards, caught it, and held it tight. A dazzling white light seeped through from between his fingers. After completing this series of actions, Fu Yao threw a punch at the stone pillar beside him, instantly crushing the massive stone pillar into smithereens. Ying Feng managed to avoid being wounded by the stream of rocks by covering his face in time.
Fu Yao blew the dust off the back of his hand. Even after the hand had went through such a violent act, there were no traces of external injuries found. Startled beyond measure, even though Ying Feng was trying to maintain his composure at all costs, a part of his emotions still uncontrollably seeped out.
“Can you see? There are still many fascinating things for you to discover in the future. If you don’t want to miss any of this, continue to walk down the right path, one step at a time!”
Ying Feng clambered up to his feet by supporting himself against the wall. Fu Yao then casually tossed him something. His casual attitude made it seem as though that object wasn’t of any value to him.
Taking a look upon catching it, Ying Feng realized that the item Fu Yao tossed him was shaped like a pebble, pure, sparkling and translucent. It was perfectly round and smooth with a dark golden color flowing inside. No matter how he looked at it, it was no ordinary object.
“What’s this?” Ying Feng didn’t understand, “Why did you give it to me?”
“That’s originally yours anyway. A soul stone that fell from a Kui’s body. You accidentally dropped it at the mine. I guess the value of an SSS soul stone must be priceless. Thus, out of everyone else who had just completed their Adult Ceremony, you can be considered the richest one.”
Ying Feng’s expression appeared unsightly. Of course, part of it stemmed from Fu Yao’s violence against him earlier. “It’s not mine.”
Fu Yao laughed at his words. “Of course it is yours. Even the person himself already belongs to you. Since Qizi have no personal properties, you’re the legal owner. Well, it’s certainly up to you whether you want to keep it yourself or give it to him.”
The terminal on his wrist beeped twice. As if he was very pleased to see the message sent to him, the corner of Fu Yao’s mouth raised into a meaningful curve.
“Your Qizi finally woke up. Aren’t you going to visit him?”
“You’re awake?” After seeing Ling Xiao opening his eyes, the attending doctor quickly walked to his side. “How do you feel?”
Ling Xiao sat up, still in a daze, his face looking completely vacant and lifeless.
The doctor checked his pupils and made sure that he was awake. He asked again, “Do you feel any discomfort?”
Ling Xiao finally reacted a little bit. He looked up, staring at the person next to him with eyes that were so gray, they almost looked transparent. “Where am I?”
Only then did the doctor rest his heart. “This is an emergency treatment center set up by the military. It’s been a while since they sent you here.”
“What happened to me?”
“You ran into danger during the field training, but the military ministry rescued you on time.” The doctor explained to him, skipping the most crucial part.
“Oh.” Ling Xiao once again lowered his head and spaced out.
What the doctor said awoke part of his lost memories. He remembered that they were in the middle of field training at that time. He declared ‘war’ against Ying Feng to see who could get more points, then a Kui appeared…
He them remembered how he fearlessly challenged the Kui and got flung to the side. While he was disoriented, Ying Feng had fled with him. He only remembered that the other person had held onto his hand before locking him in a tight embrace.
Ling Xiao basically recovered his awareness up until the moment Ying Feng had pushed him away before charging straight at the Kui. He then felt the Embers 2nd he carried in his bosom, which he had stolen from the lab previously because of his young curiosity. Never did he expected that it would be put into good use one day.
And a gap appeared in his memory right then. Upon seeing how dazed and quiet he was, the doctor surmised that it was probably due to the effects of the numbing composition in the saliva, which led him to behave rather sluggish.
But in the next second, Ling Xiao suddenly reached out and caught the hem of the doctor’s coat. He was so fast that the doctor was slightly shocked when he heard Ling Xiao ask, “Was I all by myself when they found me?”
“No, there were two. Your companion was together with you.”
“Is he alright?”
The doctor answered with some hesitation. “His injury is a lot less serious than yours. He should be fine by now.”
Ling Xiao heaved a long sigh of relief and murmured, “That’s good.”
But why was he unable to shrug off the nagging feeling that he seemed to have forgotten something important? Ling Xiao attempted to recall desperately, but it was as though all the pathways leading to his memories were tied in a knot. He would return back to the starting point no matter which way he took.
“If you feel better now, you can take a shower first.” The doctor kindly suggested.
It was only after hearing the doctor’s reminder that Ling Xiao discovered how astonishingly pathetic he looked. Unknown bloodstains had congealed on his entire right arm. Even the top of his uniform had vanished without a trace. Looking down, there were many dark red spots on his chest.
“Is my treatment finished?” He asked almost foolishly.
The doctor didn’t know how to break it to him that the external injuries he suffered could be healed, but the love bites weren’t considered injuries. A majority of the people who had just become Qizi would subconsciously forget something because they weren’t willing to accept the truth. Turned out he was a similar case too.
“Your injuries are more serious. You won’t be able to recover fully in the meantime. It will recover on its own after some time.”
“Oh.” Ling Xiao nodded dazedly. “Let’s go then.”
When Ling Xiao’s feet touched the ground again, every step he took was as though he was on walking on air. Everything felt unreal to him. His surroundings, everything around him, even the man leading the way, appeared as though they were only a part of his imagination. This moment also felt like a dream to him. A white fog completely shrouded his vision, and every sound was forsaken thousands of miles away. There was no end to the long and narrow hallway.
The doctor opened a door for him which connected the dreamland and the reality, “The shower room is right here. I already put your clothes inside. You can call me if you need anything else.”
Ling Xiao nodded and entered through the door inattentively. The shower room was already cleaned. A clear mirror hung on the wall, heartlessly reflecting everything it saw. Just one short glance was all it took to capture Ling Xiao’s attention right away.
He subconsciously walked towards the mirror, studying the stranger in it carefully. The stranger was also gazing back at him with a pair of light gray eyes. They continued staring fixedly at each other, and that one glance felt like eternity.
After a long time, Ling Xiao reached out his hand. His fingers trembled slightly in the air, reaching out several times before retracting them over and over again.
The person in the mirror was doing the same action too — Shyly, shyly drawing closer to him. In the end, an icy sensation joined them, and there was no longer any trace of the possibility that this was a delusion.
He finally touched the other person’s eyes. His fingertip softly brushed pass the corner of those eyes and, tracing the shape of the eyes, it fell down, drawing a feeble arc in the air.
How could it be him? How could this be him?